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News, schools, and views from a uniquely Lowell perspective

Lowell – Looking Good on Film

I unfortunately missed the Lowell Film Collaborative’s presentation of The Invention of Lying when in came out on DVD, but we watched it soon after, and as Dick mentions, the scenes of Lowell are great. It is fun to see the actors dining at La Boniche and Cobblestones, the aerial views of the city are lovely, as well as the brick buildings and cobblestones. Wow, we live in a cool city! The movie was okay (I agree with the Globe’s assessment that they ducked the big issues that were raised); but, for us, seeing Lowell on film made it great.

What I’m left wondering is, how did they happen to pick Lowell? I guess they needed an old-fashioned looking place that could serve as an alternate universe; and I suppose, that was a city, not a town. Here’s the Washington Post’s take on the movie, wherein they describe the setting as “a nondescript town (charmingly played by Lowell, Mass.).” In any case, it will be interesting to see if Lowell catches on as a movie set – sometimes nondescript can be a good thing!

posted in Art | 0 Comments

Making a splash for Lowell High

According to Coach Batt (Battistini), five years ago the LHS boys swim team didn’t even have a parent representative on the Friends of Lowell High School and winning a meet was as likely as finding a shark in the pool. Fast forward to last Friday when the Lowell High Boys Swim and Dive Team, fresh off a 10-1 season that included a first ever win against Chelmsford, placed seventh in the State Division I competition held at Harvard University.  If you exclude the private school winners, such as St. John’s Prep which took first place for the fifth consecutive year, and Boston College High School, which took sixth; LHS placed fifth overall for public schools (beating Chelmsford again by 12 points). The top ten Division I teams were:  St. John’s Prep, Lincoln Sudbury Regional, Minnechaug Regional, Lexington,  Andover, BC, LHS, Chelmsford, Westford, and Amherst Pelham Regional.

Aside from the importance of winning, which IS important, most folks know there are many benefits to participating in athletics, and Lowell’s swimmers were no exception. The varsity team met the MIAA’s gold standard for grade point average (3.00-4.00), and equally impressive, nearly every Lowell swimmer who participated in the state meet improved his best-ever high school time, and isn’t that what it’s all about—doing our own personal best. (For details on some records broken, see this Sun article.) Congrats to the team, coaches, parents, and the high school for its support of student athletics. On another note, all 11 winter varsity sports at LHS achieved the MIAA’s GPA gold standard with a combined average of 3.15. Go Red Raiders! (Full disclosure: My son swims on the team.)

posted in Lowell High, Sports | 0 Comments

Women’s Week in Lowell

February seems shorter than usual this year, but that means the 15th Annual Women’s Week starts Sunday! There is an impressive list of events lined up: a quilt raffle and quilting workshops at the New England Quilt Museum; a display about fashion in America since 1700 at the American Textile History Museum; a mill girl walking tour; the latest MRT play, Black Pearl Sings, and MUCH MORE – really too many events to name. Of course, there’s also the annual Breakfast celebration at the Lowell Inn and Conference Center (that’s Monday, from 7 – 9 am; tickets $25). There’s also a rock concert (Mothers of Rock 2010) and a Living History presentation about women in New Bedford during the height of the whaling boom. I’m amazed at the variety and quality of the offerings and am planning some serious schedule-juggling to take advantage of these opportunities. Take a look at the event calendar to plan your Women’s Week.

posted in City Life, Local Groups | 0 Comments

Thought for the day

Love your crooked neighbor with all your crooked heart. W.H. Auden

posted in Poetry | 0 Comments

LHS crew team in Madrid

As I sit here in cool weather under cloudy skies, a group of Lowell High School students are enjoying an exciting and educational adventure in Madrid. (See here for their day-by-day account of the experience.) The students, who row in the school’s highly successful crew program, are participating in the trip under the guidance of LHS teachers and coaches, and with full approval of the Lowell School Committee. As required under the travel policy, the committee approved the trip before any funds were collected; also per the policy, the request for that approval (which provides insurance coverage) included written explanation of the learning outcomes to justify two days missed from school. Congratulations to the studentssounds like they’re having a wonderful experienceand muchos gracias to the teachers/coaches for making it happen!

posted in Lowell High | 0 Comments

Love at the Whistler House

Looking for something to do this weekend? Consider music and romance brought to us through the Image Theater, our local theater group. This from their website:  Lowell’s Image Theater is proud to collaborate with the illustrious Whistler House Museum for a Valentine’s weekend celebration of romance, wine and song. Boston cabaret artists Bobbi Carrey and Will McMillan will bring their acclaimed cabaret performance “If I Loved You” to the beautiful Parker Gallery at Lowell’s Whistler House Museum, 243 Worthen Street, Lowell, accompanied by Doug Hammer on piano.

Saturday, February 13th, with a cocktail reception at 7 pm and a show at 8pm and Sunday, Feb 14th at 2pm and 3pm, for the price of $59 a couple, $30 for single tickets. Will and Bobbi will delight you with songs from Gershwin, Rodgers, Berlin, Porter, Sondheim…songs that speak to the heart, mind, and soul. Hear the duo that The Boston Herald claims “transforms listeners into a beautiful daydream…” and The Improper Bostonian called “…sparkling and sultry…” Call 978-452-7641 for reservations (which I just did) and discovered there are only seats remaining for the Sunday performanceL.

posted in Local Groups, Theater | 0 Comments

What’s with the weather?

I get regular emails from the folks at the Observatory on top of Mt. Washington; usually, it’s rather comforting to hear about their horrendous wind speeds, devastating wind chill factors and enormous piles of snow (rather like listening to the traffic reports when you don’t have to go anywhere). This year, however, things are pretty dull up there, as just like us, they watch enviously while Pennsylvania, DC, and points south get dumped on (well, I like to ski, so I’m envious). So far this year, the Mountain has seen below average snowfall, but in an attempt to raise staff morale, it was pointed out that in April of 1988, they got over 100 inches of snow. Here’s hoping!

To live vicariously at the top of Mount Washington (“the world’s worst weather” is proudly proclaimed), check out their site, where you can read about the experiences of the summit volunteers, and see some gorgeous, otherworldly pictures.

posted in Just for Fun | 0 Comments

No Parking Ban – NOT!

Just checked out the city website to see this under the News link:

Snow Emergency – No Parking Ban

At first glance, I took that to mean: there is a snow emergency, but there is not a parking ban. Luckily, I clicked on the link to read more. It actually means there is a “no parking” ban – which doesn’t make sense. Howver, there is, of course, a ban, and it takes effect at noon. The ban will be in effect “until such time that the ban is lifted.” Government-speak, I love it!

posted in City Life | 0 Comments

Kafka in New Orleans

In light (a poet’s light, that is) of the upcoming Super Bowl in New Orleans, Paul posts on RichardHowe.com about Zeitoun, a book by Dave Eggers that tells the story of a man who stayed behind after Katrina. I have been thinking about this book lately because I was also reading The Trial, by Franz Kafka and found eerie similarities between them. Of course, Kafka wrote surreal fiction and Egger’s narrative is about what actually happened to Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a Syrian-American Muslim, but the sense of bureaucracy gone astray with devastating consequences is the same. Kafka, of course, prefigured much of the horrors of the 20th century in his dread-filled, often bleakly humorous works, but Zeitoun’s story is true and happened here. That’s what is so frightening. Check it out, if you wish to see what the unchecked power of the federal government can do to the individual. The word “Kafkaesque” can be applied here. I also recommend Spike Lee’s documentary:When the Levees Broke for an edgy, in-your-face depiction of the disaster. Sorry, Pats fans, but I’m glad the Saints are in – New Orleans needs the boost and, it gives us all a fresh chance to turn our thoughts to what happened there.

posted in Books, Sports | 0 Comments

Check school travel policy yourself

Like most folks, I take my news with a grain of salt; this learned response was strengthened since getting elected to the school committee and having seen, on occasion, my own words taken out of context, misrepresented, or used loosely to support some agenda in the newspaper. But even before running for office, as an active member of the Citywide Parent Council involved in issues reported in the press, I had experienced slanted coverage firsthand. Recently, a number of examples of this come to mind—perhaps the most blatant is the headmaster search stories which focused on one candidate, implied a political choice that devalued the work of the search committee and its process, and ignored comments to the contrary. (I can only attest to what I said that did not make it into print regarding confidence in the process and the superintendent.) That agenda seems to have taken a back seat now that the search committee has released the candidates for interviews. Another recent example is this story faulting the school committee travel policy (“Policy change chills Lowell school trips”). If you read to the end of the article, you’ll see the intent of the policy is consistent with other districts. Also, it’s worth reminding folks that the two most important changes to the policy, approved unanimously one year ago, were: 1. Receive school committee approval of a trip before any money is collected; and 2. Require written notice of the learning standards and justification when students will miss school. As I posted here then, the policy is not meant to detract from student trips, but to make sure money is not collected without approval and any sanctioned absence from school is with good reason. The policy is not excessive, nor is it contradictory to what other school districts expect–despite the story’s slant.

posted in Education, school committee | 0 Comments

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